Ready for a bit of food, travel, and feel good entrepreneurial inspiration?
Since January 19th is National Popcorn Day, it’s the perfect time to talk about my favorite popcorn, local Orlando made Major’s Project Pop. More importantly, I want to introduce you to an inspiring entrepreneur, Chauniqua Major-Louis.
We all know her as “Major”, the driven creator of Major’s Project Pop. A small and mighty company based in Orlando that serves up your favorite popcorn made with 100% organic and vegan ingredients.
I’m a fan of entrepreneurs’ start up stories, especially women in the food industry. Major has inspired us to “snack bolder” and to look at every opportunity to make a positive impact in the community around us while doing so.
As we kick off 2021, whether you’re looking for inspiration to snack better – and bolder – or to live a cleaner lifestyle, thinking about your “someday list” or considering your next move in life (such as starting a side hustle like Major), I hope you’ll be inspired to #MakeSomedayHappen one delicious bite, sip and trip at a time.
We Love Popcorn in America!
Did you know Americans consume 13 billion quarts of popcorn a year? More than any other country in the world! It’s believed European immigrants brought kettle corn to America in the mid to late 1700s. Made with lard and sugar in large kettles, over an open fire. It was often sold at festivals and fairs. Light and fluffy, sweet and salty, it was – and still is – the perfect treat.
Popcorn became even more popular in the United States in the late 1800s when Charles Cretors, a candy-store owner, developed a machine for popping corn with steam. By 1900 he had horse-drawn popcorn wagons going through the streets of Chicago. But believe it or not, popcorn is said to have been around since the 16th century, when the Aztecs used popcorn in their headdresses during ceremonies to honor the god of maize.
This is Popcorn with A Purpose.
Major’s Project Pop is popcorn with a purpose. It’s a little sweet, a little salty, all vegan, and all good. A fresh take on kettle corn using carefully-selected organic ingredients, including a bold virgin coconut oil that lingers on your palate.
Organic non-GMO kernels are popped in small batches with the perfect combination of organic vegan cane sugar and Himalayan pink salt to create a light and balanced flavor profile. Only vegan ingredients are used. And absolutely no preservatives!
In fact, this clean profile is what inspired Major to create Project Pop!
“I dreamt up Major’s Project Pop when I realized that most popcorn on the market was a little too dirty for my taste. You know — too many ingredients that I couldn’t pronounce.” she says.
Mission: People Over Profits.
I’ve had the pleasure of working with Major since I started GoEpicurista in 2014, promoting many of her restaurant clients around Orlando. I’ve always been impressed with her drive, social consciousness and passion for everything she does.
“Food is the ultimate connector of people, and an amazing tool to help make lives better” she told me back in 2016 when through her project “Good Through Food” she launched a promotion with many local chefs and restaurant owners to aid victims of the Louisiana floods.
Now with Project Pop she continues to elevate and support causes important to her, like Feeding Children Everywhere and the National Black Food & Justice Alliance.
“Our mission is to always put people and purpose over profits, and we look forward to living this out boldly.” says Major.
She shared in an Instagram post that she was hit at around 2 or 3am (when most entrepreneurs get their best ideas!) with the meaning of “pop” in Project Pop.
“It has always meant People over Profit.”
“When the word was given new meaning, everything made complete sense. I’d like to think that Pop means people and purpose over profit, and that’s our promise. We won’t cut corners, use cheap ingredients, or do things that dishonor our snackers and the people this company is called to serve.”
This is popcorn you can feel good about snacking on!
Let’s dig in!
I hope you’ll enjoy my chat with Major, your favorite “Snack Dealer!”
Food is an important part of your life, as a PR specialist working with many restaurants and as a food’preneur creating Project POP. What inspired you to share your passion for food with the world?
“For more than a decade, I’ve worked in marketing and publications, and have had the pleasure of working alongside some of the best chefs in the country. Helping them open restaurants, explore trends, impact communities, and develop products inspired me to do more. This work led to the founding of Major’s Project Pop to satisfy my desire of creating a snack that I felt good about feeding my nieces. I have a heart for connecting with people and popcorn is one of the many conduits I use to do so. It’s an honor and privilege to serve people and I look forward to living out our mission of “people and purpose over profit” for years to come.”
When and where did your love of popcorn start?
“A previous employer of mine bought me a popcorn machine for Christmas. Every week, I spent hours mixing different seasonings to make new, exciting flavors for my colleagues to taste. Around that time, I dreamt up the idea of starting a popcorn food truck. I won’t share all of the details, because I may still launch it! A few months later, I signed up for the foodpreneur series at East End Market to learn the ins and outs of starting a food business. Within a month, I created recipes, designed my logo and website, and launched the business. I’ve been popping ever since.”
Major first popped in 2014 but made it official in 2017! Now her fantastic product is in high demand so the future is bright.
Do you use any popcorn mix-ins?
“We keep it very simple and natural at Major’s Project Pop and don’t use any additives or preservatives, which are often found in some of the mix-ins that we all have come to love. For example, most recently we added a Peppermint Pop to our offerings and that recipe features an organic peppermint oil versus candy cane. Every recipe has no more than six to seven organic and vegan ingredients, which are all recognizable and pronounceable.”
What is your favorite popcorn related memory?
“I can remember eating the snack packs at the movie theaters as a child. It was my favorite thing about going to the movies! I mean, what 10-year-old doesn’t like popcorn, fruit snacks, and Sprite?!”
Eating fun treats like popcorn usually comes with a sense of place. Where is the most unique or interesting place you’ve ever enjoyed a bag of popcorn?
“The most interesting place would be in the backseat of my car in college after taking a nap in between classes.”
Last year despite the challenges you powered through beautifully! You were included in the snack box for the premiere of the Antebellum movie, partnered with Tommy Hilfiger, and were featured in various national publications including Forbes and Cosmopolitan. What does 2021 look like for you? Got any fun projects coming up in 2021?
“OMG, what a year 2020 was. So much of the success we experienced was completely unexpected, but I’m forever grateful. You could not have told me that any of that would have happened, especially during such a tumultuous year. It’s bittersweet to think that our business bloomed amid such chaos, but this gives me fuel and reminds me to never take any order or opportunity for granted.”
“This year, we are doing fun, new things and already have movie deals secured. Coming up, snackers will be able to sign up for our first-ever snackscription box, which will officially kick off on February 1. We are also rolling out a 24K Gold popcorn (yeah, like real 24K gold flakes!) for Valentine’s Day and we’ll likely bring it back for Mother’s Day. Also, to celebrate Black History Month, we are releasing a limited-time-only Black Bag. It will feature our OG flavor and a portion of proceeds will go to Black-led nonprofits that fight hunger and advocate for better education in marginalized communities.”
As a Black woman-owned small business, what is your advice to other entrepreneurs who are inspired by your story?
“I always share four pieces of advice that apply to anyone, no matter their ethnicity.
- Surround yourself with a tribe of people that believe in you, challenge you, and motivate you to keep going.
- Get a resolve and a conviction that will keep you pushing, even on the hardest days.
- Don’t spend so much money getting started. I created my website and logo and I’m still using the same ones today. Trust me, I want to upgrade, but I’m sharing this to encourage you to just get started.
- You don’t have to be the smartest. Or have the most money. You just need to have faith, a commitment to learning, and the ability to bounce back after failing numerous times.
Major’s advice is one I wish I had received when I ventured on my own. I definitely agree with each point she mentions. From having a strong tribe around you to not waiting until everything is “perfect” to start. Go for it and fail and succeed forward!
What is at the top of your “someday list” that you hope to check off soon and #MakeSomedayHappen? I define your “someday list” as a more attainable version of a bucket list. It could be as simple as new restaurants or cuisines to try, places to visit, new experiences to share with loved ones, skills to master or new opportunities to take your business into new directions.
“I would love to visit Denver again during the springtime. My husband and I recently visited in the winter of 2020 and it was amazing! I’d love to go back when the grass is green so that we can eat sandwiches outside at a restaurant called Watercourse Foods. From there, we’d take our iced lattes to go and head out for a long walk throughout the city.”
Do you have a favorite inspirational quote to leave us with?
“Be bold and kind, and remember to have grace for others.”– Chauniqua Major-Louis
Where To Get Your Project Pop Popcorn and Swag
The best part about this mighty small business is that you can order online and get it shipped anywhere, nationwide. Order special collections such as 2 pack People Over Profit Collection in a striking black bag which benefit various black-led nonprofits. Or get the perfect for Valentines snuggling on the couch with your loved one, 24K gold Popcorn!
She also has some fun swag. Snack Dealer t-shirts, mugs and bags so you look good while you’re munching away.
I was happy to get my hands on Project Pop’s limited edition t-shirt produced by Impress Ink together with other local businesses as part of “Orlando Merch Campaign” with proceeds benefiting local restaurants, businesses and Second Harvest Food Bank to feed those in need at the start of the pandemic. The initiative raised $49,320!
I loved the simple message: “Spread Kindness. Share Snacks.”
Celebrate National Popcorn Day!
Major’s Project Pop is a popcorn company that creates the perfect sweet and salty snack using 100% vegan and organic ingredients. Made in small batches, the healthy-ish popcorn gives all snackers a treat without the additives often found in popcorn. Vegan, Gluten Free, and Nut Free!
Snack for a Year – Free popcorn for a year and Snack Dealer merchandise valued at $210
Any online popcorn purchase on January 19th will enter snackers into a contest to win the Snack for a Year giveaway. The winner will be announced on Thursday, January 22 at 7 p.m. EST via Instagram. Ships Nationwide
I hope you found a bit of inspiration from Major’s story and insights. If you know any women food’preneurs with an inspiring story, please message me. I would love to meet them!
“When women support each other, incredible things happen”
#MakeSomedayHappen one delicious bite, sip and trip at a time!